Does Every Juror Have to Enter a Trial With An Open Mind ?

In People v. Arnold (96 NY2d 358 [2001], Chief Judge Kaye, writing for the Court, instructs that, although it is impossible, as well as undesirable, to form a jury devoid of the life experience that would assist in a juror's evaluation of credibility and argument, what must be, and is, asked is "that every juror enter the trial with an open mind, that every juror not be prejudiced from the outset against any particular party, and that every juror be willing to decide the case solely on the evidence presented and the law instructed by the Trial Judge" (id., at 362). To achieve this goal, the Court instructs that the trial court must look to the provisions of CPL 270.20 (1) (b), which provide that a party may challenge a prospective juror for cause on the ground that the individual in question has a state of mind that is likely to preclude him or her from rendering a fair and impartial verdict based solely on the evidence presented at trial, and thus that a prospective juror "who has revealed doubt, because of prior knowledge or opinion, about her ability to serve impartially must be excused unless the juror states unequivocally on the record that she can be fair" (id.). It is this court's view that no less a standard regarding assurance of juror impartiality must apply in the case of a sitting juror who raises a doubt regarding his or her ability to serve impartially. Failing an unequivocal assurance of impartiality, the sitting juror in question must be deemed "grossly unqualified to serve in the case" per CPL 270.35 (1).